Around the World Concert Series

Osvalo “Ozzie” Rivera is a musician born in Puerto Rico and raised in southwest Detroit. Rivera’s form of music is Afro-Latin Caribbean music, a type of music heard around plantations and country sides of islands, and he performed at HFCC on September 30 as part of the Around the World Concert series sponsored by the Student Activities Office and Council of World Cultures. The program is designed to expose students to diversity in the forms of music and dance. This particular performance was presented in recognition of Hispanic Heritage month.

Rivera's performance included getting the audience involved more than it did him performing with his group. He explained why he likes to get the audience involved when he said, “There is no way to perform (Afro-Latin Caribbean Music) in an hour. I like to get people involved and try to teach them that music is about community.”

Throughout his performance he did just that.

Rivera presented how the community was a major part of music by having volunteers play instruments that ranged from the “bongo,” which is a Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of single-headed, open-ended drums attached to each other, to the “guiro” which is a Native American instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side that is rubbed by a wooden stick. Other instruments included the pongo, maracas, bell, and cua.

There were three volunteer group performances that were pretty entertaining, some more than others. The first group that volunteered was electrifying. It seemed as though every volunteer who picked up an instrument was on the same page as the person next to them. The energy in the room made me want to jump up, flip over a table, and bomba on it while continuing to think I was too cool to volunteer. The second group that performed made me wish the first group was still on stage. It took them a while to get on the same page, but they eventually did. Their energy was lower than the first group. The energy of the third group of performers was just as good as the first group. They made me want to do a barrel roll up to the stage, drop kick the microphone, and do the Tootsie Roll, a dance that was popular in the early 90s.

The “community of music” also consisted of volunteer dancers. The first group looked like they were doing the first hustle I had ever learned, and had remixed it. At one point a male and a female student volunteered to dance in front of the stage with the second group of musicians. They did a little two step and were done. There were a few volunteers that danced a circle around the spectators in attendance which I thought was pretty groovy.

Rivera’s last performance was a salsa piece. He ended this piece by reiterating how “music is a part of community,” and then gave an example of how it was used in the community when he said “people used music as a warning signal to other villages as a sign of danger.”

When I asked Rivera what he wanted students to gain most from his performance, he replied, “My main purpose in doing these types of presentations is to get students and others to look at Latin music in a different way. It is my hope that maybe they will understand that Latin music is steeped in tradition, and has been a key factor in the development of American music, dating from early forms of jazz, rock and roll, and even hip hop culture that developed in the late 60s and throughout the 70s in New York City.”